The Kazakhstan government has shut down the country’s Internet amid protests.

Protest have sprung up across the country in the wake of rising fuel prices, morphing into more general protests against the national government.

However, as is common in countries with authoritarian regimes, the protests have led to a nationwide Internet shutdown. Both NetBlocks and Cloudflare noted an Internet blackout in the country, starting on January 4with restrictions to mobile services, followed by a wider shutdown on January 5.

The Great Disconnect

The great disconnect

Governments are shutting down the Internet, using digital sieges to quell unrest, and threatening the Balkanization of the web

“Kazakhstan is now in the midst of a nation-scale internet blackout after a day of mobile internet disruptions and partial restrictions,” said Netblocks.

“Currently, we are experiencing restrictions on the provision of mobile Internet services for reasons beyond the control of the Companies,” local telco Beeline said in a tweet.

Cloudflare noted that Internet services returned for around three hours yesterday at the same time Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev gave a televised speech before the blackout resumed.

Soldiers from the Kazakh and the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) have been deployed to bring the protests under control and dozens of people have been killed in the violence.

The Guardian noted that the price of Bitcoin dropped amid the blackout, as many miners were lured to the country in the wake of China banning the cryptocurrency.

Kazakhstan has routinely blocked Internet access in recent years. AccessNow reported on Internet shutdowns in a number of Kazakhstan cities in February 2021 amid anti-government protests calling for the release of political prisoners. Netblocks reported similar blackouts on election days in June 2021.

Similar shutdowns have occurred recently in Sudan and Burkina Faso.

Subscribe to our daily newsletters